FOUR ARCTIC ISLANDS: SPITSBERGEN, JAN MAYEN, GREENLAND AND ICELAND
Perfect for first-time visitors to the Arctic, this voyage highlights four spectacular destinations near the top of the world and provides an unforgettable taste of the region, featuring giant icebergs, towering mountains, granite cliffs, iconic wildlife, traditional Inuit culture and more.
Your adventure begins in the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, renowned for its stunning scenery and abundant, varied wildlife such as polar bears and walrus. From there, sail south to the mysterious, volcanic Jan Mayen, a nature reserve so remote that few have ever been fortunate enough to explore this Arctic treasure. The next stop is Greenland’s beguiling east coast, where you will cruise deep into Scoresbysund to marvel at the overwhelming beauty of the world’s largest fjord system, gaze in awe at unimaginably vast icebergs, and admire the diversity of the flora and fauna that have fascinated explorers and visitors for centuries—and seize the opportunity to explore the remains of ancient Thule settlements. Your epic adventure culminates with a journey under the midnight sun to Reykjavik, where you can soak up Icelandic culture in a city that never sleeps.
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo, Norway
Your Arctic adventure begins in Oslo, where you may arrive at any time during Day 1 of your itinerary. Upon arriving in this splendid capital city, known for its green spaces and museums, you will check into your included airport hotel.
Day 2 Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement. As you embark this afternoon, you’ll hope to enjoy great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop for this seaside town.
Day 3 – 6 Exploring Spitsbergen
Exploring Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, rewards you with austere beauty and opportunities to spot its abundant wildlife. Here, you’ll visit spectacular glacier fronts and steep-walled fjords, with walrus, polar bears and Svalbard reindeer amongst your possible wildlife sightings. Birders will be thrilled to see Arctic terns, skuas, long-tailed ducks, kittiwakes and ivory gulls. If conditions permit, you could sail within 10 degrees of the North Pole!
Day 7 – 8 At Sea
While sailing south through the historic Greenland Sea toward Jan Mayen, your Expedition Team will keep you informed with presentations about the history and politics of the Arctic, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. On deck, you’ll learn to identify seabirds “on the wing.” The team will also keep a lookout for the whales that frequent the waters here.
Day 9 – 10 Exploring Jan Mayen
North of the Arctic Circle, about 280 miles (450 km) east of Greenland and 340 miles (550 km) north of Iceland, the mysterious Jan Mayen rises from the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. Often shrouded in thick fog, the small mountainous island was declared a nature reserve in 2010 and is rarely visited, save for the 18 rotating personnel of the Norwegian military and Norwegian Meteorological Institute, who are the only inhabitants.
Landing here will be dictated by the weather and sea. If conditions allow, as we approach, keep watch on deck as the spoon-shaped island’s highest summit emerges. At 7,470 feet (2,277 meters) high, the breathtaking Beerenberg volcano features a symmetrical cone shape and impressive glaciers that spill into the sea.
If we’re fortunate, we may get a close-up view of the volcano and the stratified cliffs of the spectacular north coast as we Zodiac cruise around the island, searching for wildlife. Designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the large numbers of breeding seabirds, Jan Mayen supports colonies of northern fulmars, little auks, glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, and black and Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres).
Day 11 – 15 Exploring Scoresbysund, Greenland
Your tour of Scoresbysund—the largest, deepest and, some say, most beautiful multi-armed fjord system in the world—will offer plenty of opportunities to explore ashore or by Zodiac cruise.
At one moment you’ll be stepping back in time, exploring the remains of ancient Thule settlements with views of icebergs and towering mountains rising straight out of the sea, and the next you’ll be immersed in contemporary culture, meeting the locals and gaining an appreciation for their way of life in Ittoqqortoormiit, East Greenland’s northernmost community. At the mouth of the sound, this remote settlement boasts a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles and is geographically closer to Iceland than it is to its nearest Greenlandic neighbors to the southwest. Here, you’ll have the chance to support local Inuit artisans by purchasing unique handicrafts.
In terms of wildlife, grazing muskoxen are a possible sight, as 40 percent of the world’s muskoxen population lives in this region. Polar bear sightings are also a remote possibility, as are encounters with more elusive Arctic wildlife, such as the Arctic hare. Seabirds to watch out for nesting atop the steep cliffs of the sound include little auks, fulmars and guillemots.
Day 16 – 17 At Sea
As we cruise south, the Denmark Strait is your pathway toward Iceland. Take in a presentation, share your photos, sip an icy cocktail in the bar or watch a film—there are many things to do during your time at sea. Your Expedition Team will also be on hand to answer any questions and point out wildlife.
Day 18 Depart Reykjavik, Iceland
You’ll disembark in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, at the end of your journey. If you have booked post-expedition accommodation, we provide a transfer to a central downtown location.
Ocean Adventurer has long been a fleet favorite among guests and crew who’ve appreciated the charm and intimacy of this 128-passenger vessel, its ample outdoor deck space, numerous cozy spots to socialize onboard—and the outdoor jacuzzi. A few years ago, Ocean Adventurer underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation involving a talented team of marine architects, engineers, interior designers and polar expedition specialists. Quark Expeditions is proud of the enhancements to the much-loved polar vessel—which subsequently won the Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Overall Small Cruise Ship (500 passengers or under).
The refurbishments now enjoyed by guests:
- A refreshed, contemporary new look and feel throughout the ship
- The addition of six new twin cabins and three new suites
- All existing cabins furnished with new soft furnishings and brand new bathrooms
- Remodelling of common areas such as the Lounge and Dining Room
- Major technical enhancements, such as two new Rolls Royce engines, which increase fuel efficiency and minimize carbon footprint.
Staff and crew: 87
Draft: 4.5 meters
Stabilizers: 2 x sperry gyrofin (1998)
Propulsion: diesel twin engines – 5,400 horsepower
Lifeboats: 4 partially-enclosed
Zodiacs: 14 (mark v type)
Voltage: 220v, european plugs
Length: 101.1 meters
Ice class: 1a
Breadth: 16.2 meters
Gross tonnage: 4614 tons
Cruising speed: 12 knots, in open water